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Loading comments Please try again, the name must be unique. Post Cancel. Through researching life behind bars and speaking with this woman about her experience, she learned more about the prison and was happy to be headed there. When the kilometre trip from Milton is over, they get out at the facility on Homer Watson Boulevard with their hands and feet shackled to one another. The shackles are removed, and the inmates are directed to stand against a wall while drug-sniffing dogs are called in.
Once checked in, women have their palms printed — O'Brien was asked to "karate chop" — and their photos taken for an identification card that must be carried with them at all times. Any belongings O'Brien carried with her at Vanier were confiscated, including a winter coat, because it had a hood. As O'Brien struggles to get her belongings inside her new home, one of her roommates offers to help.
The living room has a plum couch with a metal frame that "looked like something you would see in the lobby of a retirement or funeral home," she wrote in a journal entry at the time. In the kitchen, there is a refrigerator along with a metal table shoved against a wall with three plastic chairs underneath.
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The five inmate bedrooms are up 14 carpeted steps. At first, O'Brien has to share a room but gets her own as soon as some of her housemates transition out of the two-storey home. Thankfully, a woman she met in the holding cell when she was first arrested at the airport happened to be transferred to Grand Valley at the same time and became her roommate. The room she shares is 15 feet by 15 feet, with two beds, a desk and cupboards with shelves below.
It was three weeks before she could to talk to her family. In what's dubbed the "quiet period," inmates submit phone numbers they want to call to Correctional Service Canada. The agency has to connect with the people before inmates can call them. Inmates also have to load their phone cards with money.
Inmates in medium- and minimum-security units have access to their own food they order off a more than item grocery list that contains staples like eggs and sugar, fresh fruits and vegetables like apples and broccoli, baking supplies, spices, canned goods, cereal, frozen meat as well as halal, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. In the beginning, it doesn't seem like a lot of money, but it's easier to stretch once you stock up on spices and dry goods, O'Brien says. In O'Brien's house, the knives and scissors were chained to the wall.
The guards locked them in a cabinet at night. With no real money inside, O'Brien said inmates would resort to the "grey economy," trading groceries or hair braiding for canteen items, trading shoes for protection and completing homework for stamps.
But unlike her days of shared housing in university, some women were more violent than others, which made the roommate experience a tad different. Day-to-day life for O'Brien inside prison became pretty routine and she started really digging into the experience. At the prison karaoke machine Submitted. She signed up for all the voluntary programs she could get her hands on.
Chaplaincy, computer, horticulture and parenting were among the courses she signed up for in addition to required correctional programs she had to take. She even celebrated her 30th birthday on the "inside" — her first sober one in 15 years — where fellow inmates brought her a cupcake and made her a celebratory meal. O'Brien also got a job as soon as she went in. She worked for maintenance, picking up garbage — a job not many people wanted so they were always hiring, she said. Eventually she was able to start doing repairs around the institution, working directly with a guy named Paul. They did everything from laying baseboards, to installing ceiling tiles, to hanging drywall, to painting.
But in mid-May, O'Brien moved into the bed minimum security unit that opened in , which brought with it a job change as a librarian in the prison library as Paul didn't do much work in the minimum-security unit. Emily O'Brien in prison library. She'd spend her days reading, writing, helping other inmates with their resumes and exercising.
At night she would watch television in the building's common area to give her brain a break. Inmates were allowed their own televisions no larger than 19 inches as long as they weren't able to able to access the internet.
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